EXCLUSIVE: Despite being on the job for barely over a week, Harvey Weinstein’s newest and latest defense lawyers won’t be asking a New York state judge for another delay in the start of the Oscar winning producer’s rape trial.
Led by recently hired Chicago attorneys Damon Cheronis and Donna Rotunno, the once again revamped team will be officially confirmed as Weinstein’s reps at a July 11 hearing in front of New York Supreme Court Justice James Burke. However, as part of that process, the Windy City lawyers had to assure Burke that they would not seek more time to prepare for the currently scheduled September 9 rape trial, I’ve learned.
An insider close to the Weinstein team confirmed the agreement between the lawyers and the judge. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr’s office had no comment on the stability of the trial date when contacted by Deadline.
Having seen the heavily anticipated trial pushed for the second time back on April 26, Weinstein will be in the lower Manhattan courtroom on Thursday with his third defense team.
In front of a jury, the rape trial is anticipated to last about five weeks based on projections from the Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-led prosecution and Weinstein’s previous defense team fronted by Ronald Sullivan and Jose Baez.
First arrested in late May last year, Weinstein is facing charges of two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape. If found guilty, the 67-years old disgraced mogul could face spend the rest of his life behind bars under the Empire State’s sex crimes laws.
Subject to travel restriction, Weinstein is out on a bail of $1 million after having entered a plea of not guilty on July 9 last year.
Stepping in to take over Weinstein’s first defense lawyer Ben Brafman in January after repeated failed motions to get the case dismissed, Sullivan and Baez individually stripped themselves off the team in recent weeks due to reported differences of opinion with their client about how best to handle to looming criminal trial.
Brought on board the Weinstein matter by the long collaborating legal duo of now ex Harvard dean Sullivan and his Florida-based colleague Baez, Arthur Aidala and Marianne Bertuna will remain on the defense team with Cheronis and Rotunno. The latter duo have never tried a case in NYC, it is worth noting.
Along with being accused by Ashley Judd in a now temporarily halted case and failing to get a sex trafficking class action tossed out, Weinstein is also facing allegations from more than 60 other women that he sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them. In that vein, Weinstein is under investigation by federal prosecutors as well as probes by the Manhattan D.A.’s office and the NYPD.
Also, a so-called $44 million “global settlement” announced in May of the claims of dozens of women against Weinstein has seemingly hit the skids after various accusers cried foul over the hefty sums being paid out to lawyers and other reps for the now defunct board of the bankrupt The Weinstein Company.
A now July 15-set hearing in front of U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mary Walrath in the District of Delaware may see the settlement matter revived in a discussion over the TWC estate appointing law firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann as special litigation counsel.
As well, since the New York Times first published its shattering expose on the producer in October 2017. additional allegations against Weinstein have been reviewed by the LAPD, which sent an initial trio of cases to the L.A. County D.A. in February last year. Another case was handed over to that same office in in August. As UK police continue their investigation, the Beverly Hills Police in January 2018 passed two cases of sexual assault its says occurred in their jurisdiction to Lacey’s office.
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